Connect with us

Economy

Trudeau roils Canada’s oil patch naming Greenpeace activist as climate chief

Published

 on

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday sparked concern in the country’s oil patch and hope among green advocates when he named two men with strong environmental records to lead his government’s fight against climate change.

Steven Guilbeault was named environment and climate change minister as part of a major Cabinet shuffle following September’s vote https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/canadas-trudeau-may-cling-power-election-looks-unlikely-secure-majority-2021-09-20, which handed Trudeau a third victory since 2015, albeit with a minority in the House of Commons.

Jonathan Wilkinson, who spent two decades in the green tech sector and then served as predecessor to Guilbeault for two years, took over as minister of natural resources. Canada is the world’s fourth-biggest oil producer.

La Presse newspaper once dubbed Guilbeault “the green Jesus of Montreal.” He has worked for green groups, including Greenpeace, for more than 20 years. In 2001 he climbed the CN Tower in Toronto to protest Canada‘s environmental record.

“This will be very concerning and frustrating for everyone who’s part of the natural resource economy in Canada,” said Heather Exner-Pirot, a fellow at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute think tank. She spoke from Calgary, the heart of the oil patch.

“Now someone who’s worked for Greenpeace … will have significant influence on how we go forward with our resource development,” she added.

Trudeau says addressing climate change is a major priority. His government already has imposed a carbon tax and has pledged net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. But green groups note that per capita greenhouse gas emissions remain among the highest in the world, thanks in part to the energy industry in western Canada.

“Liberals are looking for a way to shut us down. … Mood in Alberta is not good,” said the chief executive officer of a Canadian oil and gas company who asked to speak anonymously.

Trudeau’s government has promised to freeze oil sector emissions and set a 2025 requirement https://www.reuters.com/business/sustainable-business/canada-oil-producers-grapple-with-trudeaus-demand-faster-emissions-cuts-2021-10-22 for the industry to reduce them. Canada has failed to meet any of its emissions-cut pledges so far.

“We need to make sure that the oil and gas industry stops increasing its emissions and starts reducing them, while supporting workers in these industries to help find new ways to work new jobs and new careers,” Trudeau told reporters at a news conference following the Cabinet nominations.

“The largest energy companies in this country are committed to net zero by 2050. And the way to do that is to all of us work together,” he added.

NO MORE OIL ADVOCATE IN CABINET

Guilbeault will be representing Canada at the United Nations COP26 summit in Glasgow, Scotland, which starts on Sunday.

“If you were an oil and gas company that was banking on the government not living up to its commitments, then maybe you’ve got some rethinking to do,” said Jamie Bonham, director of corporate engagement at NEI Investments, a responsible investor that owns shares in some oil sands companies.

Seamus O’Regan, who was well-liked by the oil and gas producers, was moved to the labor ministry from natural resources.

Keith Stewart of Greenpeace Canada praised making Wilkinson the new minister because in the past the natural resources figure has “acted as the chief advocate for the oil industry at the Cabinet table.”

Trudeau also appointed new ministers of defense, foreign affairs and natural resources. Fewer than 10 of the 38 ministers kept their existing positions. There are two more Cabinet positions now than in 2019, and an equal number of men and women.

Liberals hold 159 seats in parliament but do not have the 170 needed to pass legislation without the support of an opposition party. Minority governments do not usually last a full four-year term in Canada.

Trudeau earlier announced that Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, who is also deputy prime minister, would be staying in her job.

Among the other major changes, Melanie Joly became Canada‘s fifth foreign minister under Trudeau. Anita Anand takes over at defense from Harjit Sajjan, who has been widely assailed over what critics say is a lackluster effort to address allegations of sexual assault in the military.

Marco Mendicino, previously immigration minister, will take over as minister of public safety.

(Reporting by Steve Scherer in Ottawa and Rod Nickel in Winnipeg; additional reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Timothy Heritage, Bernadette Baum and Jonathan Oatis)

Economy

How will the coronavirus omicron variant affect the economy? – Marketplace.org

Published

 on


Scientists are racing to figure out omicron, the new coronavirus “variant of concern,” and governments are scrambling to devise strategies for dealing with it. Several have rushed to enact new travel bans and dust off mask requirements.

On Friday, the United States announced that it would ban visitors from South Africa and seven other countries in the region. And on Monday, President Joe Biden said he expects no additional travel bans and doesn’t think new shutdowns are necessary.

So what might omicron have in store for the U.S. economy?

We don’t need more lockdowns for the virus to damage the economy. It can do that via plain old fear. Gad Levanon, who heads the labor market institute at The Conference Board, said that if omicron turns out to be, say, a slightly worse delta, we might expect a similar economic result.

“Spending on leisure and hospitality would be impacted, spending by older people and families with young children that are not vaccinated — they will be spending less — and especially, I think, tourism will take a big hit,” he said.

The U.S. has ended up trying to manage the virus rather than stamp it out, but some other countries — countries with whom the U.S. trades — are inclined to take a stricter approach.

“China is still persisting with its zero-COVID policy, so if we saw more disruption and closures of factories, that would weigh on supply chain problems that have already been an issue,” said Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics.

How omicron might affect inflation is another question that, for now, is unclear.

“In the near term, you’re going to have a sharp, sudden reduction in consumer demand,” said Ian Bremmer, president of Eurasia Group.

That would bring inflation down. But if omicron turns out to be particularly serious, supply chain problems might intensify in a month’s time, keeping prices up. “The effect is mixed but differs over time,” Bremmer said.

We don’t know yet what threat omicron poses to global health, but we do know that the virus controls the economy, and the information we get over the next few weeks will dictate the path our economy takes.

Adblock test (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Economy

How Much of a Threat Is the Omicron Variant to the Economy? – The New Yorker

Published

 on


How Much of a Threat Is the Omicron Variant to the Economy?

President Joe Biden stands at a podium wearing a black suit and blue tie. There are holiday decorations and a painting...

Biden urged Americans to get fully vaccinated and wear masks indoors, adding, “The variant is a cause for concern, not a cause for panic.”Photograph by Anna Moneymaker / Getty

What a difference a few days makes. This time last week, retail analysts were looking forward to a bumper holiday-shopping season, the stock market was making new highs seemingly by the day, and economists were predicting that annualized G.D.P. growth could top eight per cent in the final quarter of the year. The Delta-variant surge in COVID-19 cases, which had been rapid during the summer, seemed to be behind us. Speaking at a White House event where President Joe Biden announced that he was nominating Jerome Powell for a second term as the chairman of the Federal Reserve, Powell said, “Today, the economy is expanding at its fastest pace in many years, carrying the promise of a return to maximum employment.”

Then came the news of the Omicron variant, which prompted the worst Black Friday sell-off on Wall Street since 1931 and a distinct change in tone from Powell. “The recent rise in COVID-19 cases and the emergence of the Omicron variant pose downside risks to employment and economic activity and increased uncertainty for inflation,” he said, in prepared congressional testimony that the Fed posted on its Web site on Monday afternoon. “Greater concerns about the virus could reduce people’s willingness to work in person, which would slow progress in the labor market and intensify supply-chain disruptions.”

Before the release of Powell’s testimony, the financial markets had rebounded somewhat from Friday’s drop. The Dow rose by more than two hundred points, and the S. & P. 500 also closed up. The price of U.S. Treasury bonds, which are widely regarded as a haven during times of market stress, fell back after posting big gains before the weekend. Crude oil, which on Friday plunged by about ten dollars a barrel, owing to worries of a slowing global economy, rose by about three dollars.

For once, the market reaction was reasonably rational. The discovery of a new variant, possibly a more contagious one, and the immediate imposition by many governments of new travel restrictions, created a lot of uncertainty about the global economy. Because investors had been pricing in a “new normal” in which COVID-19 didn’t go away but did become manageable, a wave of precautionary selling and profit-taking was inevitable. Similarly, given how little we really know about Omicron, Monday’s pause to assess things also made sense. There were reports from South Africa that some of the new cases are mild ones, but scientists warned that it’s too early to reach any judgment about the lethality of the new variant. Anthony Fauci, the President’s chief medical adviser, informed him at a meeting of the White House COVID-19 response team that it would take about two weeks to “have more definitive information on the transmissibility, severity, and other characteristics of the variant.” Afterward, Biden urged Americans to get fully vaccinated and wear masks indoors, but he said that further lockdowns were “off the table” for now. “The variant is a cause for concern, not a cause for panic,” he added.

At this stage, that judgment applies to the economy as well as the public-health situation. In a circular to clients over the weekend, economists at Goldman Sachs outlined four ways in which this new variant could play out: a “false alarm” scenario, in which Omicron actually spreads less quickly than Delta and has little economic impact; a “downside” scenario, in which Omicron spreads more rapidly than Delta but isn’t significantly deadlier, and has only a modest economic impact; a “severe downside” scenario, in which Omicron turns out to be more contagious and deadly than Delta, prompting another wave of lockdowns and a significant economic downturn; and an “upside” scenario, in which Omicron spreads faster than Delta but proves much less deadly. In this upbeat outcome, a “net reduction in disease burden leaves global growth higher than in our baseline . . . the recovery in goods and labor supply accelerate.”

Even if that final scenario smacks of wishful thinking, it is true that the range of possible outcomes is broad. It is also important to note that the situation is very different from the start of the pandemic, when the original strain of the coronavirus had free rein. For an extremely bad economic outcome to materialize, there would have to be another wave of widespread and lengthy lockdowns—either compulsory ones imposed by governments or voluntary ones caused by people retreating to their homes out of fear. Such a set of events is conceivable, but it would likely have to be preceded by a big wave of hospitalizations and deaths in areas where Omicron is circulating, not merely more cases. As long as the vaccines continue to offer protection against the most serious illnesses, countries with high rates of vaccination will hopefully be able to escape such a tragedy. (As experts have long argued, to protect the residents of developing countries, which generally have lower rates of vaccination, it is imperative to make vaccines more widely available.)

For now, the Biden Administration and other governments are extremely reluctant to impose more lockdowns, which would be politically controversial and economically damaging. Their medical advisers are busy pointing out that the vaccines have provided significant protection against the previous variants. There is “reason to be optimistic,” Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, told MSNBC on Monday. However, the World Health Organization released a technical note that described Omicron as “a highly divergent variant,” and it said that the over-all global risk from Omicron is “very high.”

Powell’s warning about downside economic risks means that an appearance he’ll make before the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday will be closely watched. It comes as the Fed is set to decide whether to tighten monetary policy more rapidly to head off higher inflation. The emergence of Omicron further complicates this decision, because, as Powell indicated in his prepared testimony, it could affect the economy in several different ways. If a severe fourth wave does materialize, hiring could appreciably slow again, but short-term inflationary pressures could also conceivably increase as disruptions to the supply chain intensify. The year-end meeting of the Fed will be held in a couple weeks. Between now and then, Powell and his colleagues will be watching the news anxiously. Just like the rest of us.


New Yorker Favorites

Adblock test (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Economy

Bank of Canada to work with Indigenous groups on reconciliation

Published

 on

The Bank of Canada will work with Indigenous groups to understand the wounds caused by decades of discrimination and determine how reconciliation can create a more inclusive and prosperous economy for all, Governor Tiff Macklem said on Monday.

Macklem, opening a symposium on Indigenous economies, said Canadians could work to correct some of the consequences of those “ugly periods.”

Ottawa forcibly removed thousands of Indigenous children from their communities and put them in residential schools in an effort to strip them of their language and culture, a practice that continues to scar families and individuals.

“The Bank of Canada will be working with a broad spectrum of Indigenous groups to set out what reconciliation means for what we do,” Macklem said.

“Together, we’ll define what reconciliation means for the work of the Bank of Canada — toward a more inclusive and prosperous economy for everyone,” he said.

Canada‘s Truth and Reconciliation Commission called the residential school system “cultural genocide” in 2015, as it set out 94 “calls to action” to try to restore Canada‘s relationship with its Indigenous people, including economic reconciliation.

“We can’t go back and change what’s happened. But we can try to correct some of the consequences,” said Macklem, adding that it is the central bank’s job to create conditions for opportunity for all Canadians.

“Taking concrete steps toward economic reconciliation is our responsibility too. And it’s incumbent upon us to take the time to do this well,” said Macklem.

 

(Reporting by Julie Gordon in Ottawa; Editing by Dan Grebler)

Continue Reading

Trending